WWD.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/kiss-seeks-sweet-smell-of-success-546009/
government-trade
government-trade

KISS Seeks Sweet Smell of Success

They paint their faces, wear leather and studs and have legions of faithful fans.

NEW YORK — They paint their faces, wear leather and studs and have legions of faithful fans.

Now KISS, after more than three decades of heavy-metal music and outrageousness, plans to market two fragrances. How’s that for a surprise?

The band inked a licensing deal with Gemini Cosmetics Thursday for both beauty and fragrances. The first products will be out in September: men’s and women’s scents.

“We thought about doing makeup,” band co-founder Paul Stanley, the group’s guitarist, joked in an interview. “But we weren’t sure how many women would want to walk around with white-painted faces.”

The deal, brokered by the band’s management, Doc Mc Ghee Management, and its merchandise and licensing representative, Signatures Network, includes both fragrance and beauty products, with men’s and women’s scents launching first. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Everything is so expected in fragrances these days,” Neil Katz, president and chief executive of Gemini Cosmetics, said in an interview. “We wanted to do something completely unexpected and create some excitement in department stores. We wanted a recognizable name, but not an expected one.”

Stanley said a full complement of ancillary products would launch with the fragrances.

“This isn’t the fragrance of a rock band, it’s the fragrance of an attitudinal lifestyle,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that the distinction, while subtle, was there.”

Katz said that he first thought about doing a KISS fragrance after attending a gathering of the group’s fans. “There was a whole ballroom of people selling KISS merchandise and memorabilia,” he said. “When I investigated, I found that KISS products do more than $1 billion in sales worldwide. At one Japanese concert alone, more than $1 million in licensed product sales were done. There is a huge market there.”

The band played its first concert in 1973 and members are well into middle age. Katz said he expects the fragrances’ users will fall into two major groups: 18- to 24-year-olds who are just discovering the band, and 40- to 55-year-olds.

While the band is, well, flamboyant, Katz said its fragrances won’t be. “They are going to be very elegant, which will probably shock a lot of people,” he said. “It’s somewhat in juxtaposition to what KISS’ image is, given their wildly painted faces and rowdy shows. But [the band members] love the idea that we are going to use their logo and makeup icons, rather than plastering their faces on the bottles.” Katz also is planning offbeat in-store events for the scent launch. “The promotional possibilities are great,” he said with a laugh.

Stanley noted that the fragrances were designed to be commercial scents. “This isn’t about what I like,” he said. “It’s really about what the majority of consumers will like. Sexy is an overused word, but I’d like to think that these fragrances are unapologetically sexy and edgy. They have an attitude. This is the fragrance for people who dare to be like KISS — not fans of KISS.”

Stanley added the packaging makes full use of the KISS logo. “It’s one of those things that is immediately recognizable,” he said. He also noted personal appearances are a possibility.

The deal with Gemini “was done in about two hours,” said Katz. “Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley [the two founding members of the band] are real gentlemen. Their stage persona is one thing, but offstage, they are excellent businessmen.”

Stanley, who recently designed a guitar line, noted that truly believing in something is the only way he or his bandmates will get involved: “We’re in this for the long haul,” he said. “[Some celebrities] do a fragrance just for the money, and certainly that works for at least the first thing. But picking up the check is the easy part. I want a lot of checks, and that involves doing a lot of homework and refining products to the point where they are something that will last.”

Stanley said the band is developing an apparel line, and that he is hard at work on a solo album that is expected to be launched within the next four to six months.